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What formula do Montana judges use to determine child support?

If you're a parent, then you're likely aware that every mom or dad in Montana must provide for the basic needs of their son or daughter. All parents must do this up unless they've lawfully relinquished their parental rights. The child support system ensures that parents do just that. There are several factors that Missoula judges take into account when deciding how much a mom or dad should pay in child support.

Administrative Rules of Montana Title 37, Chapter 62, Subchapter 1 spells out how the court determines how much disposable income a parent has to make child support payments. Judges generally take into account either a mom or dad's actual and imputed income when trying to figure out how much support that they owe.

An actual income is any monies that a parent makes on the job, from owning their own business, their receipt of scholarships and grants and by taking into account any noncash benefits.

Imputed incomes are any monies that a parent could command if they were employed in a full-time role. If a parent is unemployed, doesn't know their income or is a student, then the court will take into account what they should be earning when calculating the amount of child support that they owe.

Montana family law judges will generally take a parent's income and deduct allowable expenses. The court then multiplies the single-person federal poverty guideline amount by 1.3 to try to determine what a child support award should be.

The court then takes each parent's income and subtracts their personal allowance. The judge then combines both mom and dad's income to determine the total amount that they're working with. That number is divided in half once again before the judge ultimately determines what one or both parents should be ordered to pay.

A parent's personal allowance is multiplied by a set rate depending on how many children a mom or dad has. That multiplier is .30 for a single child. It's .20 for two or three and .10 for four or more kids respectively.

Making sense of this formula isn't easy. A child support attorney can help you understand it though. Your lawyer can also aid you in requesting modifications of family law court orders as well.

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Cunningham Law Office is a family law-focused firm in Missoula, Montana. We serve Missoula, Ravalli County, and the surrounding area.